Three Ways to Conquer Anxiety

Do you struggle with anxiety? We all do to some extent. The most common cure? Distraction. The Christ-follower’s cure? Prayer and Scripture. The only problem is, when we’re anxious, it’s hard to distract. And, it’s even harder to sit down, pray, and read our Bibles. We just get too anxious!

Here are three things I do to conquer anxiety:

1.  I walk.

I love to take walks. I really do. Whenever I feel anxious, I grab my 50-pound, chocolate Labradoodle, Henry, and, together, we hit the pavement. Sometimes we take long walks. Sometimes short. It depends on my anxiety level.

You may remember the schmaltzy hymn, In the Garden. It starts off, I come to the garden alone. . .

And he walks with me, and he talks with me,
And he tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Walking clears my head. It just does. It gets me out of my anxious world and into God’s. And God’s world is much calmer than mine. He isn’t anxious at all.

Walking helps me pray.

2.  I sing.

Some people hum. Others whistle. I sing! One of my kids asked me the other day, Why do you sing so often? And, why at such random times? (Truth be told, my singing embarrasses them a little.)

My answer was twofold: joy and anxiety. I sing when I’m happy and I sing when I’m sad.

The psalmist cries out,

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
   Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Singing about Jesus (not sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll) releases something in me—someone—the Holy Spirit. Singing is not so different from reading God’s promises in Scripture. It’s just more powerful, I think. Try it! God loves it when we sing!

3.  I speak in tongues.

Now, whenever I talk about speaking in tongues, someone inevitably says, “But I don’t do that.” And while there are many different teachings on this subject, here’s mine: If you want to speak in tongues, you can. Just start.

Ask God to fill you with his Holy Spirit and then start babbling. Babble, babble, babble! At first, you’ll likely focus on what your mouth is doing. That’s natural and normal. Over time, however, you’ll shift your attention to God and you’ll be blessed in doing so.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. A couple of verses later he writes, Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.

Can I be honest? When I’m anxious, I’m not thinking about edifying the church. Anxious people don’t think about others, because they’re too anxious. That’s one of the problems with anxiety! It’s selfish. I’m only thinking about myself. So, I edify myself. I build up myself. And speaking in tongues does that for me. God encourages me when I practice that gift. He gets me out of myself and I think he’ll do the same for you.

If you want to speak in tongues, grab me some Sunday morning after the service, and we’ll ask God together to release that gift in you.

Some Final Thoughts

So, that’s me. That’s how I cope with anxiety. I walk, I sing, and I speak in tongues. Other things work too, like serving others. Some people have a chemical imbalance and medication is an option. Others need deliverance. These are just my top three.

We’re more anxious today than ever it seems—probably because we have more time than ever. That’s another message for another day. Whatever the cause and whatever the cure, the one thing I know is we don’t have to be anxious. Jesus loves you and I love you.

1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.